The Beautiful People

At the gym on Monday, I looked around the room and realized that I was one of the heaviest people in the room.  At my old gym (the local Y), I was usually one of the fittest people in the room.  As I failed around during Les Mills’ Body Attack, I felt out of place.  Even though sure, I was also wearing glitzy athletic clothes, my short hair was scrunched back into a pathetic tiny ponytail, my jazz hands were going up when everybody else’s went down, and I don’t have perfect skin.  I’m not particularly tan, and I have a mean bike-shorts tan line on my legs.

This, I realized, is the gym environment that heavy people talk about when they talk about being embarrassed to go to the gym. I always thought that everybody should be proud to go to the gym, because well, at least you’re there.  But as I jumped around, feeling humiliated over my lack of grace, I understood.  Nobody should be constantly worried about how they look, whether their belly flab is jiggling too much, when they are just trying to get in a good workout.  And I was very concerned with that on Monday.

This gym is a gym that costs around $60-80 a month, it’s downtown, and it’s designed to keep out the riff raff.  It makes me uncomfortable, but so did the local Y with the bandaids that were always on the floor of the pool, the bathroom floor that was always flooded, and the toilet seats and paper that were sopping wet.

Is there a gym for the fabulously average fitnessista?  Because I would like to go there.  Somewhere where everybody isn’t in their early twenties, trying desperately to look good naked.  Because at the local Y, when I saw an average joe come in and sweat through their very first spin class, or an older woman come in and try yoga, or saw high school students swimming laps after school, I felt inspired.  I felt like if they were getting up and going to the gym every day, so should I.  I felt like none of them were judging me.  In the yuppie, glitzy gym, I wanted to go home and hide out in the safety of my treadmill and my 30-day Shred videos.

But the problem is, at the old gym, the classes weren’t really challenging enough, the instructors were a little too impressed that I could do squats, and again, the band-aids in the pool.  Plus it was a 20-minute drive from my house.  So I’m still searching for the middle-ground gym, where I feel comfortable being myself, inspired by my fellow workout buddies, but also pushed to try my hardest.

Do you have a middle-ground gym?  What has your gym-going experience been like?

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4 Comments

Filed under Exercise and Fitness

4 responses to “The Beautiful People

  1. I tend to time my gym visits around when I expect very few people to be there (perk of being on a flexible academic schedule), but I experience a similar feeling when I run on weekends. All of these fit people jogging effortlessly around me and I’m sweating and red and breathing hard and can only keep up a real jog for a few minutes at a time. I also refuse to do group aerobics anymore because I’m so hopelessly uncoordinated that I spend the entire class feeling embarrassed at my ineptitude instead of getting a good workout.

  2. Maggie

    Oh yeah, the beautiful people – I visited my sister’s gym around 7pm one day and ran into the chic afterwork crowd. It felt like being at a bar at happy hour or something; everyone seemed to be there to look good, show off, and hopefully pick someone up. I felt acutely aware that I wasn’t wearing tight, curve-hugging spandex or Lululemon or a bouncy blond ponytail and exposed cleavage, LOL. I was there to sweat, dammit!

    I used to work out at the Y, and it was 99% older people. It was nice to be the youngest one there or the only one actually jogging, but it was a little weird to see people on the treadmill in actual clothes, e.g. Khakis, a button-down shirt and loafers. Also, people would randomly collapse, which was seriously frightening (all were okay, but it was still unnerving to watch).

    My current gym is pretty okay – it cost $30/month (I’m using my half of our tax refund this year), but maybe that’s because we don’t live in *that* big a city. I also have the opportunity to go whenever I want, so I usually go in the late mornings or early afternoons – mostly retirees and moms and teens at that hour, or it’s mostly empty. The trainers look like Hollywood extras, but I’m not dealing with them one-on-one, so it doesn’t bother me too much.

    I wish I could feel 100% comfortable working out around a gym full of hyper-fit tan people who look like models and seem to not have a hair out of place (how do they do that? Mine gets all frizzy) and are possibly wearing full makeup, but I’m not sure my self-esteem will ever be THAT high.

    On a side note… I’ve gone on many rants about these beautiful people to my sisters. I know it’s not their fault, that it’s mostly genetics, and I know there are downsides (I never had to worry about icky guys hitting on me at 15; I’ve never been called “high maintenance”; I didn’t have to worry about some dude marrying me just for my looks, ha)… but I hate that, at almost-30, I still get twinges of envy that I don’t look like that and never will. It’s not that I aspire to, really–I’m so much happier in my body than I used to be in my teens/twenties–but at times, it still gets to me. 😛

  3. Personally, I’ve always felt welcome at CrossFit. When I started, I could barely do any of the movements, or lift any weight at all. But despite working out with firefighters and military people a lot of the time, it’s always a friendly atmosphere. Now that it’s more established, we’ve got everyone from kids to grandmothers, and in all kinds of different shapes, and it’s still friendly.

  4. I used to go to a gym like that. After work it was all good looking people. But a few times I went during the middle of the day (this was when I was in graduate school) and discovered that’s when the older, not so fit people went. Obviously I know that doesn’t really help you because you can’t just decide to go whenever you want. But that’s just something I noticed.

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